“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” 1 Samuel 15:23a
As I was reading this morning there were 4 different accounts or verse sets that I came across that I felt the Lord impressing me to dig into further. I was rather stunned when I got all of the verses onto my word processor and did a little digging into the Hebrew of the verse from 1 Samuel:15 as to how they each complemented the others so well in a lesson I believe God had for me to understand to a greater degree this morning. So, let 's get started.
First, in taking apart the Hebrew in the 1 Samuel verse above, I found most meaningful parts to the connection in the words in the second part. Look at what I mean:
stubbornness – to peck at like a hen pecking at another hen in order to stun it or dull its advance
iniquity – to exert oneself in vain or otherwise that all the efforts put forth will result in no change
idolatry – with worship of something other than the One true God
Now maybe you don't own chickens or have never watched a group of chickens and how they peck at one another to gain their place in the pecking order of the flock, but at times it can be a rather disturbing thing to watch. We own about 40 laying hens and this is a daily occurrence on our farm. My hens who are on the upper end of the pecking order are fully feathered and very alert and snappy when you watch them. On the other hand, the hens who are on the bottom side of the pecking order are usually missing a lot of feathers (due to the upper classed hens who have pecked them off of the lower ones) and they walk in a manner that is rather skidish or you will see them hiding under a board or in the nesting boxes almost for their survival that day.
Like I said, I was struck at the word definitions above because in essence the second half of the first part of 1 Samuel 15:23 states that “...putting yourself in a place of prominence while at the same time putting others down will bring about no results in the kingdom of God and on top of that God sees it as a form of idol worship.” Wow! Now onto the next set of verses I have to share.
“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, 'He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.'” John 8:3-7
Do you see the relation? These scribes and Pharisees were doing the same thing as my chickens. They were trying to prove their point to Jesus by setting a pecking order on the law. They had set out to condemn this woman by the law they felt had elevated their position and which had degraded hers. But Jesus did not allow the pecking to continue, rather He pointed out their true place in the pecking order in relation to God through their sinful state and God's perfection. He set the law straight pointing out the God alone is the One whom we all are subject in the pecking order of life.
Later on in that same chapter of John, Jesus says the following statement:
Jesus really drives the message home here. None of us have the right to judge anyone else and none of us should use others to make ourselves feel better about how we live for the Lord or how we measure up to the standards God has set before us. Even Jesus was not ready to rush into judging anyone as He knew it was alone the verdict of the Father, administered then by Him, that all would eventually be judged. Do we really think that we have the right to rise above Jesus in the pecking order of the kingdom? I guess that is the point we need to think about when we look at others and start degrading them on our own understanding of truth and righteousness.
But then, are we left to live at the bottom of the pecking order because of the things we do and the sins we find ourselves ensnared in on a regular basis? Or are those we see around us who are caught up in sinful lifestyles bound to a life of shame and guilt? No, we know that our Judge is one who is kind and merciful and slow to anger and for all who come into His coop there is no pecking order among the other chickens, just under Him and He does not shame us or make us live in our guilt if we come to Him and stay under His loving wing of protection.
Hear what Jesus said about that same illustration I gave above:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Matthew 23:37
Today and every day we need to be content in the pecking order that the Lord has designed for us and stop striving to get ahead of one another. It is when we live in peace and we find shelter under His wings that all things are set straight and we are allowed to live in the freedom of the life set before us. For those inside the coop we have no reason to fight – we are called to gather together under His wings which provide enough protection for all of us. And for those outside the coop we need to live in a manner the ways of the worldly pecking for position make no sense but yields the fruit of peace they too desire and which will drawn them closer to our Father.